It started out as a requirement. I wanted a concentration in classical studies to go with my history minor. I got more than I bargained for. I got my ass kicked.
Latin I was a bloodbath. I could memorize the declensions and conjugations. But when it came to translation or composition, I crumbled. I had no idea how the pieces fit together. When I looked under the hood of this language, I saw something awesome in its complexity.
I was defeated. I dragged myself back to class and back to my copy of Wheelock's Latin day in and day out. Nothing worked. I was barely passing and felt like I was holding back the rest of the class. At first, I was ashamed of my failure. And then I accepted it.
I ground out the rest of Latin I and managed to scrape together a B- for the semester. And I came back around for Latin II. I wanted that concentration. I went into Latin II knowing it was going to be an ordeal, knowing I would fail. And that's when it clicked.
I could read it left to right. I understood the syntax. And most important, I saw the beauty in the efficiency of the language. It had a functional strength that I've since pushed to emulate in how I approach English as a writer and editor.
Why did it suddenly make sense? I accepted that it was going to be difficult. I accepted that I was going to fail. And when I stopped trying so hard not to fail, I succeeded.
I keep my copy of Wheelock's Latin on my nightstand. I put my glasses on top of it before I go to sleep. When I put them on in the morning, it's the first object I see as my eyesight comes back into focus. It's a useful reminder.